It is past my bedtime. I am staring at a pile of dishes in the sink, at the leftovers from dinner on the stove, at the toys strewn across the living room rug, and ignoring them all completely as I stare at the top of your head. You are sleeping, or you were sleeping. And as I heard stirring over the monitor, I glanced at the camera to see you sit up in your bed, adjust your animals and your blanket, and settle back in, snuggling your blanket against your cheek, curling to your side the way I do.
You will be soundly asleep again soon, and I am left with the image of those curls, the curls that are the perfect blend of your daddy's and mine, perfectly formed on the top of your head.
I spend most of my day seeing you from this angle. It is the first thing I see when I wake each morning to the sound of running, and look down from my side of the bed to see you as you say, "good morning, Mommy." I pat your curls before helping you climb into our bed, as Daddy hits the snooze button one last time for morning snuggles before the day begins.
I watch the top of your head intently as you walk downstairs, slowly, one step at a time, one hand on the rail, the other tightly grasping your blanket. I trail right behind you, but don't touch. "I do it myself" was heard loud and clear, but I'm always right behind you.
I pat your head while I make breakfast. You perform an intricate dance of weaving in between my legs as you say, "Mommy, I help you." I help you into your seat at the table and stand beside you, pouring milk over cereal, or syrup onto pancakes, or juice into your cup.
I sip water and watch you eat. I can never eat this early, but breakfast has become my favorite part of the day. We talk about our plans for the day. I look at the mess of curls on top of your head and think of how much you are starting to look like me.
I sit beside you as we play. We stack blocks, we play with your princess castle, we feed your babies endless bottles of milk of juice. We play with your train table until it collapses. All the while, I see the those curls on the top of your head.
We get ready for whatever adventures the day may hold. Per your request, I brush your hair into a ponytail or pigtails or simply a bow. I spray leave-in conditioner until your hair is wet, manageable, and once again, am reminded of my childhood, sitting still while my parents attempted to detangle the mop of curls on my head. You sit still in my lap, usually waiting patiently for me to finish. When I am done, I pat the top of your head, the signal that jumping and dancing and running are allowed again.
We continue with our day, whether errands or the park or the zoo, and I continue to see the top of your head. I can pick out your head as you scale to the top of the slide or slip into a group of other kids. I know your head. I know your curls. I know you.
I snuggle you in my lap for a movie before bed and my chin rests perfectly on top of your head. We sit that way for a while, quiet, content, and I forget that you won't fit there forever.
It occurs to me that you are growing and I am suddenly very aware of your height, of the distance between the top of your head and the bottom of my chin. As my belly grows and you sit beside me for bedtime stories instead of in my lap, my chin still finds the top of your head. As you insist on reading "all by yourself," I still pull you in closer to me, rest my chin on those curls and listen intently as you recite books from memory.
You are growing. Our family is growing. I know you will do more by yourself and need me less and less. But, I hope that somehow, no matter how big you get, that you will still find comfort as you snuggle into my chest until I can rest my chin on the top of your head - a simple reminder that I'm right behind you and everything will be okay.